Citizens gathered at City Hall Saturday, joining other major cities in a nationwide rally against the ban on same-sex marriage in California.
Students from Temple’s Queer Student Union, formerly known as Common Ground, were among the many gay rights activists who attended the protest against Proposition 8, a ballot proposition that amended the California State Constitution to ban gay marriage.
“In my opinion, [Proposition 8] goes against everything this country stands for and everything we have worked hard to gain, not just as LGBT people, but as Americans in general,” said Zoe Goldberg, a sophomore religion major and vice president of QSU.
“It’s impeding on our free will,” said Jason Williamson, a freshman psychology major and active QSU member. “The main backers of this are the Republican Party and various churches. It makes no sense because with every other issue, [Republicans] want the government out of their lives except when it comes to abortion and gay marriage.”
The members of QSU were not the only Temple students at the rally. Elizabeth Hanson, the president of Temple College Democrats, also attended the rally to show her support for this latest struggle for gay rights.
“As a Democrat and as President of Temple College Democrats, there was so much to celebrate on Nov. 4, but we couldn’t celebrate equality [because of Proposition 8], which sort of made it a sad day,” she said.
Seeing demonstrators hold President-elect Barack Obama signs and wear Obama pride stickers was encouraging to Hanson.
“This rally shows that citizens are engaged, and we are going to stand up for our rights, for what we want and for what we believe in,” Hanson said.
Proposition 8 was put on the California election ballot after the California Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage on May 15, 2008.
On Nov. 5, voters passed the amendment 52 percent to 48 percent, overturning the state Supreme Court’s decision and recognizing marriage only between a man and woman.
Demonstrators held up signs that read “8=H8” and “LGBT rights are civil rights.”
After standing and shouting phrases such as “Love is great, repeal 8,” the participants in the rally began marching around City Hall.
The crowd was roaring with such enthusiasm that even the arrival of Repent America, a Christian evangelical organization that fervently opposes homosexuality, did not put a damper on the protestors’ passion.
The remarkable attendance and dedication of demonstrators impressed Temple alum Deborah Hinchey, president of Pennsylvania College Democrats.
“It’s a Saturday afternoon in Philly, and something like 1,500 people have shown up to protest a law that is going on in California,” Hinchey said. “I think that’s pretty incredible.”
Senior biology major Deanna Wozniak, president of QSU, said she was impressed with the turnout and attributed it to the growing number of LGBT supporters.
“Even though Prop 8 is a California issue, the fact that people on the other coast are here in mass shows exactly how much support there is for this issue and for the LGBT people,” Wozniak said.
“There is nothing else I can say other than the City of Brotherly Love certainly shows it today.”
Joshua Fernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.